The 11 Nations of the US

book by award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 separate nations with entirely distinct cultures that have historically divided the US (see their descriptions below the map).



  • The area was settled by radical Calvinists and encompasses the entire Northeast north of New York City as well as Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
  • It values education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment and citizen participation in government as a shield against tyranny.
  • Yankees are comfortable with government regulation and have a “Utopian streak.”

New Netherland

  • Settled by the Dutch, this nation is a natural ally with Yankeedom and encompasses New York City and northern New Jersey.
  • A highly commercial culture that is “materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience.”

The Midlands

  • Settled by English Quakers, it is a welcoming middle-class society that spawned the culture of the “American Heartland.” It encompasses parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.
  • Political opinion is moderate, and government regulation is frowned upon.
  • It is ethnically diverse (“America’s great swing region”).


  • Built by the young English gentry in the area around the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina.
  • Starting as a feudal society that embraced slavery, the region values authority and tradition.
  • Woodard notes that Tidewater is in decline, partly because” it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk.”

Greater Appalachia

  • Colonized by settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Greater Appalachia is stereotyped as the land of hillbillies and rednecks. It encompasses parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas.
  • It values personal sovereignty and individual liberty and is “intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike.”
  • It sides with the Deep South to counter the influence of federal government.

Deep South

  • Established by English slave lords from Barbados, it was styled as a West Indies-style slave society. It includes Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina.
  • It has a very rigid social structure and fights against all government regulation that threatens individual liberty.

El Norte

  • Composed of the borderlands of the Spanish-American empire, it is “a place apart” from the rest of America. It has parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California.
  • Dominated by Hispanic culture, the region values independence, self-sufficiency and hard work above all else.

The Left Coast

  • Colonized by New Englanders and Appalachian Midwesterners, the Left Coast is a hybrid of “Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration”. It encompasses Coastal California, Oregon, and Washington.
  • The staunchest ally of Yankeedom.
  • San Francisco is very typical of this nation.

The Far West

  • The conservative West, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California.
  • Although it was developed through large investments in industry, it resents the Eastern interests that initially controlled that investment.

New France

  • A pocket of liberalism nestled in the Deep South, it is focused around New Orleans in Louisiana as well as the Canadian province of Quebec.
  • Its people are consensus driven, tolerant, and comfortable with government involvement in the economy.

First Nation

  • Made up of Native Americans, the First Nation’s members enjoy tribal sovereignty in the US.
  • The territory of the First Nations is huge, but its population is under 300,000, with most people living in the Northern reaches of Canada.

According to Woodard, Yankeedom and the Deep South exert the most influence among these 11 nations and are constantly competing with each other for the hearts and minds of the other nations.

“We are trapped in brinkmanship because there is not a lot of wiggle room between Yankee and Southern Culture,” Woodard says. “Those two nations would never see eye to eye on anything besides an external threat.”

He also believes the US is likely to become more polarized, even though it is becoming a more diverse place every day. He says this is because people are “self-sorting.”

“People choose to move to places where they identify with the values,” Woodard says. “Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority. This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller.”